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Resources for the Cooperative Classroom

The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury

Combining cooperative groups and mathematical problem solving, this videodisc program for middle school students was developed by the Learning Technology Center at Vanderbilt University. Each of the six episodes, presented on 3 videodiscs, begins with a short movie that sets up a problem and poses a challenge. Whether stuck, out of gas, in a motorboat on a darkening lake, or plotting the course for a 5-mile race, the kids and adults in these engaging scenarios present believable dilemmas to be solved with mathematical and analytic skill. Content areas include: the relationship between distance, rate and time (trip-planning episodes); the use of probability and statistics (developing business plans); the use of geometry (map reading). The problems are designed for small group exploration—they require planning, research, collaboration, and problem solving. An accompanying notebook includes reproducible lesson materials, teaching tips and additional activities to enhance problem solving.

Available from:
Optical Data Corporation
30 Technology Drive
Warren, NJ
07059 (1-800-524-2481)

Available for Mac with 4 MB of RAM and hard disk drive, running System 6.0.7 or later.
Cost: Six episode set $1,795; Individual discs (two episodes) $695.

Get It Together: Math Problems for Groups, Grades 4-12

With over 100 mathematics problems, this collection is designed for use with cooperative groups. Each activity provides six clue cards, each of which gives a piece of information that will help solve the group problem. Interactive sharing from each cardholder is essential to find an answer. The book covers a variety of mathematical topics including numbers and operations, logic, geometry, probability, measurement and functions. Each topic area includes activities of varying difficulty, and a handy grid at the back of the book matches grade levels and topics with activities. The book also offers advice on using cooperative learning in the classroom.

Available from:
EQUALS Project
Lawrence Hall of Science
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720
Cost: $15.00.

The Great Solar System Rescue

This astronomical adventure on videodisc launches students (grades 5-8) into the year 2210 on a quest for missing space probes lost in our solar system. Using clues from a variety of disciplines including geology, meteorology, history, and astronomy, cooperative teams locate the missing satellite and choose one of several suggested rescue strategies. A video library of stills and action clips about astronomical phenomenon accompanies the structured activities and greatly expands the possibilities for extended use. Clips range from a still representation of the mass of Jupiter to a computer simulation of a moonscape based on data sent back by the Voyager probe. The authors estimate the program can take from 4 to 12 class periods.

Available from:
Tom Snyder Productions
80 Coolidge Hill Road
Watertown,MA 02172-2817

Available for Mac 3 1/2 (2 Megs, color) or Windows 3 1/2 (256 K).
Cost: $299.95 for kit includes 1 videodisc, teacher guide and student report booklets and blackline masters.

Mars City Alpha

In this classroom simulation for grades 5-8, student teams design the first human habitat for Mars. The year is 2043 and the teams must study questions concerning biological life support, health and recreation, governance, geology and meteorology. The heart of the boxed kit is the student Mission Manuals, which provide detailed discussion of the various challenges confronting the designers. The kit's additional resources include color posters, activity booklets, and a glossy magazine-format manual on Mars. The teams come together after completing their individual assignments and the entire class designs the Martian city. The project can take from 4 to 9 weeks.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education
1055 North Fairfax Street, Suite 100,
Alexandria, VA 22314
Cost: $85.

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